On 16th of September 2015, the French Senate voted for a complete ban of indoor tanning in France, as part of a broad-ranging bill on health matters. The bill still has to go to France’s National Assembly where the Senate’s vote may be overturned.
Over the last years ESA and its national member associations have worked hard to introduce a new European standard for the training of tanning facility operators and the provision of services in such facilities. The implementation of this standard (EN16489, 1-3) has started with a pilot project in the UK. It requires operators of sunbeds to follow a detailed curriculum and take a test, covering the technical and scientific aspects relating to UV rays and their impact on the human body as well as customer service based on individuals’ skin types.
Combined with the existing technical standard on the maximum irradiance level of tanning devices (EN60335-2-27) and recent technical improvements based on state-of-the-art UV technology, the new training program ensures sunbed users a high degree of safety.
ESA believes that adequate consumer protection can be fully guaranteed by the enforcement of the existing measures, backed up where necessary by controls and sanctions against individual offenders.
A blanket ban of indoor tanning would be unnecessary, disproportionate and possibly also counterproductive as it would drive sun seekers outdoors, without any control of their UV exposure. The rays emitted by tanning devices are identical to those of the sun, and whereas sunlight is necessary and beneficial for human health and wellbeing, over-exposure can be harmful irrespective of its source. ESA is therefore advocating reasonable and moderate use of tanning devices. Finally, a prohibition of sunbeds would not only frustrate hundreds of thousands of French customers but could also destroy almost 22.000 jobs in the country.
“We regret that this vote took place in such haste, based on insufficient and misleading information while ignoring the facts”, declared Mr Frank Harbusch, ESA Secretary General. “We are confident that the National Assembly will take a different position. ESA is comforted also by the position of the French government, which favours a more pragmatic approach by improving existing regulation. Given that the current law has been in place for almost 20 years it could indeed benefit from bringing it up-to-date. The tanning profession and its representative organisations are ready to contribute to this work.”
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Frank Harbusch, Secretary General
European Sunlight Association a.s.b.l.